Bitterns are back in Marbury

8:30am Sunday 5th January 2014

By Gina Bebbington

ONE of Britain’s rarest birds is making a winter home in a Northwich reedbed.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust said reports confirm that at least two bitterns have been seen at the reedbed by Budworth Mere, in Marbury Country Park.

Only a small number of bitterns, described as highly camouflaged herons, nest in the UK but winter sees birds from the continent join resident bitterns to avoid harsher conditions in mainland Europe.

Their habitat is almost exclusively the type of reedbed found at Budworth Mere, which is managed by Cheshire Wildlife Trust.

Tom Marshall, from the trust, said: “With perhaps just two or three key sites in Cheshire and the Wirral for bitterns each winter, the appearance of them once again at Marbury is a real thrill.

“Reedbeds are extremely precious in the region and historically Marbury, along with Rostherne Mere and Moore nature reserve, have been the places to go to encounter this species that’s top of the bill for any wildlife-watcher.

“The bitterns can appear at any time and are best seen from the public bird hide, although around dusk they often climb high into the reeds or low tree branches giving the best chance to get a great view.

“We of course ask people to observe the signs at this time of year and not enter the reedbed area as they are very easily disturbed.”

The trust manages the reedbed with bitterns in mind, periodically cutting ‘rides’ or spaces amongst the reeds allowing access for the bitterns to feed on small fish and amphibians.

The trust, backed by chemicals company INEOS ChlorVinyls, has also introduced a new boardwalk section – open during the summer months only – and improved viewpoints and benches.

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